Frantic start to Race 1. Image: contributed

‘Wild West’ Regatta

The Big River Sailing Club hosted the popular ‘Bridge to Breakers’ regatta last weekend in conditions that ranged from wild to sedate. The out-of-season westerly on the Saturday was true to forecast, plus some, and those that ventured out knew they had a torrid two hours ahead of them.

With gusts in excess of 25 knots, the works were unforgiving, the reaches white knuckle, and capsizes were common. A very much toned down westerly persisted through the Sunday, and in contrast to the previous day, boats were at times searching for a breath of air in the morning race, desperate to make headway against the tide. The bruises, frustrations and consternations of organisers were forgotten by Sunday afternoon, however, when the breeze did settle and allow an additional two races to round out a four-race series.

As has been the trend in recent seasons, the single and two-handed monohulls had the greatest representation.

The Impulse Dinghy was the dominant class in the single-handed, with local sailor Scooter Hinton winning ahead of regular visitor Peter Fell. Other local Impulse sailors James Harrison, Gus Young and Bryan Linnett fought out the remaining places with some very close racing and only a few points separating the three.

The two-handed Heron, and best family boat, were present in numbers, with the Vaiciurgis family sporting two boats and taking out the top two places. Other standout performances in the monohulls included Bill Heuchmer (Ballina) who won the faster monohull division, and some impressive improvements by BRSC members Kylie Keleher and Simon Law.

The catamaran and yacht fleets were down in numbers with some unable to race in the conditions. A breakage on the first day didn’t stop Arrow champion Frank O’Rouke, who acquired a replacement boat to win that division ahead of Grafton sailor Tony Rose. Ian Michie was the best of the faster catamarans, and the yacht division was won by Steve Brajkovich ahead of Symon Willmon and Stephen Scmidth.

There were some very brave performances by several juniors, many of whom were nipping at the heels of their more senior rivals. Charlie Nosworthy (Flying 11) and Luke Roberts (Optimist) were the eventual winners ahead of local sailors Jack Hayes, Emma Robertson and Hendrix Mahoney.